SIX SHARED SEASONS | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 26, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:16 AM, August 26, 2017

Poetry

SIX SHARED SEASONS

(for Rubana, a true Southasian)

(Note: Writing 'Southasia' instead of 'South Asia' is a charming orthographic innovation that indicates the region's civilizational unity; it is used by Himal, the weekly published from Kathmandu, and the Southasian TV Channel, of which Rubana was CEO for some years.)

THE BORDER

Let us say you dream of a woman,
and because she isn't anywhere around,
imagine her across the border.
 
You travel hunched and twisted in a crowded bus,
on a ferry through opaque night
lacerated by searchlights,
 
to this squalid frontier town:
a one‑legged rickshawallah takes you round
to a six‑by‑eight room, the best in the best hotel.
 
But instead of crossing over you lie dreaming
of the woman, and the border:
perfect knife that slices through the earth
 
without the earth knowing,
severs and Joins at the same instant,
runs inconspicuously through modest households,
 
creating wry humour – whole families
eat under one flag, shit under another,
humming a different national tune.
 
You lie down on the fateful line
under a livid moon. You
and your desire and the border are now one.
 
You raise the universal flag
of flaglessness. Amidst bird anthems
dawn explodes in a lusty salute.
 
Kaiser Haq has just retired as professor of English from the University of Dhaka; he is currently the Dean of Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, and a poet and translator.

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